Froth and Bubble
Hazel Bagley

Froth and Bubble

Fiction & Poetry

Voters Rating 31 / 1000



The title 'Froth and Bubble' comes from a short poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon:

‘Life is mostly froth and bubble;

Two things stand like stone;

Kindness in another’s trouble;

Courage in your own.’

The stories in this collection are essentially light-hearted, even though death sometimes enters in. Some are inspired by my life’s experiences, although I’ve never killed anyone (yet). Some are thought-provoking, some just a bit of fun but all, I hope, will entertain.

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The dinghy had been beached for a long time. The boy went down to the little cove every day, to sit in the dinghy and imagine himself taking her out into the bay, putting up the sail and rounding the headland. The former owner of the dinghy must have died, or abandoned it long ago, as it was pretty much a wreck.

A plank was missing, one of the seats was broken, the varnish was long gone and the name, Endeavour, had almost disappeared.

The boy was an orphan. His father had left when he was an infant, his mother had died a few months ago. Tim now lived with his mother’s sister, Aunt Amy, and her husband, Uncle Bill. They did their best to make him feel at home.

‘You’ll soon make friends at school,’ Aunt Amy said, when she took him shopping for his school uniform and new trainers.

Uncle Bill said, ‘Come to the football match with me? They’re not bad for local lads and there’s a good clubhouse there.’

Tim went along with their suggestions, whatever they were. He couldn’t be bothered to argue. It was as if nothing really touched him; he was engulfed in a dark cloud. All that he could think of was his loss. Occasionally his mood lifted a little, but he was unhappy most of the time. He found some solace sitting in the little boat and using his imagination to sail to distant shores.

On the first day of the Easter holidays he was sitting in his usual spot, when he noticed a man walking along the beach towards him. The man had straggly dark hair, topped by a faded blue cap. He wore a rather shabby dark jacket, well-worn jeans and moccasins. His face and hands were deeply bronzed, as if he spent most of his time outdoors, and he carried a sturdy canvas bag slung over one shoulder.

‘Are you Tim?’ he asked. 

The boy nodded. 

‘How did you know?’ 

The man gestured to the cottages on the cliff top.

 ‘Someone up there told me. Mind if I sit down?’  

Tim shook his head. The man sat, delved into his bag and produced some bread and a piece of cheese. 

 ‘Would you like to share with me?’ he asked. Tim hesitated, but the stranger’s kind expression and warm voice encouraged him to accept. They ate in silence for a while, then the man said, 

‘Is this your boat?’ 

‘Sort of,’ said Tim. ‘No-one wants it. It’s broken but Uncle Bill said if I can get it mended he’ll teach me to sail. I’m trying to save to buy the wood, but I can’t earn much. I only have a paper round.’

The stranger listened intently, his eyes never leaving the boy’s face and Tim found himself, for the first time, speaking of his mother’s death, his unhappiness and his difficulty settling into a new life with his relatives. 

‘You feel angry that your mother left you.’ said the man. ‘It’s the hardest thing in the world to lose someone you love. But remember, your aunt lost a loved one, too, didn’t she?’

Tim hadn’t thought of that before. He found himself wishing that he’d been nicer to his aunt and uncle. Too caught up in his own misery to realise. 

The man stood up.

 ‘I think I can help you with the boat, if you’d like,’ he said. ‘I know where I can get some wood and we can make a start.’

Tim was overjoyed and happily agreed. The man left, saying he would return the following day.

The next morning, after a hurried breakfast, Tim ran down to the cove. The stranger was there, standing by the boat, but the boy hardly recognised it. The missing plank had been replaced, the broken seat renewed and a new mast fixed in place. Fresh varnish gleamed and the name, Endeavour, shone out in bright white paint.

Tim stared, dumbfounded at the sight of the transformation. Who was this man, who had seemingly come from nowhere, and brought about this little miracle? 

‘But, wh-where did you get all this?’ the boy stammered. ‘How did you do it all?’

The man smiled. ‘I used to be a carpenter, long ago.’


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